I had a patient ask me the other day about whether having your spine adjusted on a continuing basis could cause arthritis. One of her friends had thought it was a bad idea to get adjusted frequently because, in her mind, it would cause arthritis over time. I love it when patients ask me questions like this, because if her friend is wondering it, there are likely others who are wondering it.
For starters, what does her friend mean by arthritis? The type she is likely referring to is osteoarthritis, which is sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. This basically happens when the movement of a joint is altered or stops, or the stresses on a joint are increased, over many years, resulting in excessive abnormal stress on the joint, and eventually breaking the joint down prematurely.
Think of this sort of like driving a car with the alignment and balance of the car being off. You take your car for tune-ups on a regular basis, and on occasion they balance the tires and check the alignment.
Why do they do this? Because the mechanic knows that if the balance of your tires and car is off, and the alignment of the tires and axle is off, what happens? There is more stress and wear on the tires of your car, on the brakes of your car, on the axel and struts of your car, and they wear out faster.
When the alignment of your car is off, your car wears out and breaks down faster. If your car was a human, they would call this ARTHRITIS of your car.
The exact same thing happens to humans. If the alignment of your spine is off, the movement of your spine decreases, and the stress on your spine increases. Less movement, and more stress, add up to arthritis;(as well as inflammation, muscle spasm, nerve pressure and altered neurological and brain function, resulting in a host of other problems over time).
So, can being adjusted on a consistent basis lead to arthritis? Since the adjustment restoresthe alignment and movement of a “stuck” joint, then no, adjustments of the spine cannot cause arthritis.
In fact, they do quite the opposite, they slow down, prevent, and in some cases, even help to reverse arthritis.
Just like any stuck joint, to maintain the health of the joint, movement is critical. If your knee is in a cast, or your elbow is in a cast, or any other joint is in a cast, once it’s healed sufficiently, and the moment the cast is off, thefirst thing they do is get it moving again.
Why? Because it’s a known fact in the medical literature that joints heal and repair when movement is restored to them. The better the movement and alignment of the joint, the more fully the joint will heal, and the better the overall function, mobility, and strength of the joint.
Your spine is no different. You have more joints in your spine than any other part of your body!
People sit on their spine for hours and hours per day, compressing it, potentially mis-aligning and damaging these joints, the bones, and discs over time. The best thing for your spine, all of its joints, and your spinal cord and nerves, is to maintain the alignment and proper movement of your spine.
This is why we do a detailed assessment of your spine, including structural x-rays, to determine exactly where you need to be adjusted. So we can maintain the alignment and motion of your spine, minimizing arthritis, and maintaining yourm obility and strength, so you can do all the stuff you love to do and need to do, for many years to come!
Dr. Byron Mackay